Once considered the focal point of Jewish spiritual life in the city and the most beautiful synagogue in the country, the Hurva Synagogue is still deeply appreciated to this day.
The earliest tradition of a synagogue existing on the site is at the time of the second-century sage Judah the Prince.
By the 13th century, the area had become a courtyard, known as Der Ashkenaz for the Ashkenazic community of Jerusalem adjacent to the Ramban Synagogue.
The Ramban Synagogue had been used jointly by both Ashkenazim and Sephardim until 1586. Then, the Ottoman authorities confiscated the building since it had a mosque sharing a wall.
So, the Sephardic community established The Four Sephardic Synagogues and the Ashkenazim established a Hurva Synagogue the early 1700s on the ruins of a 15th century synagogue.
However, the Ottoman authorities destroyed it a few years later in 1720. After that, the plot lay desolate for over 140 years and became known as “The Ruin”, or Hurva.
In 1864, the synagogue was rebuilt, and although officially named the Beis Yaakov Synagogue, it retained its name as the Hurva.
From then on, it was considered the most beautiful and most important synagogue in the country and was described as “the glory of the Old City.”
It was a focal point of Jewish spiritual life in the city and was the site of the installation of the Ashkenazic chief rabbis in Jerusalem and the rest of the country.
It became Jerusalem’s main Ashkenazic synagogue, until it was destroyed by the Arab Legion during the Israel’s war of Independence, only to be rebuilt again in 2010.
For information about visiting, check out the Hurva synagogue information page.